Pinehurst Interviews Archive

Pianist Gary Brown keeps tradition alive in the Carolina Dining Room

As a second-grader Gary Brown knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up – a piano player.

While most kids dream of being an astronaut or President of the United States, Gary’s idol was closer to home. He wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Robert Murphy delighted guests in the Carolina Dining Room with his music for three decades before being diagnosed with cancer. He passed away in 2012, but his memory lives on thanks to his family.

You see, Gary isn’t the only member of the Murphy family who plays at Pinehurst. His uncle, Paul Murphy, has been known to take on dinner shifts when he’s not busy at his church.

Gary was just a freshman at Pinecrest High School when he started playing at the Carolina, but piano wasn’t his primary instrument. Instead, he played the drums as part of a trio featuring the Murphy family.

I’ve been playing here for almost 13 years now and it seems like I just started yesterday,” Gary said. “There’s never a dull moment and I love what I do. When I come here, I don’t feel like it’s work at all.”Gary2WEB

It didn’t take long for him to graduate to the piano. After all, he’s been playing as long as he’s been walking.

“The piano just drew me near,” he said. “Every time I was around it, I would go and play.”

Gary took piano lessons, but his grandfather helped him hone his skills.

It was Robert Murphy who introduced him to musicians like Beethoven, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. He also instilled in Gary the value of hard work.

“My grandfather always taught me about providing a service and being able to do your best, have integrity and letting your work speak for itself,” he said. “I’ve always tried to carry that on.”

When Gary isn’t playing in the Carolina Dining Room, he’s busy tuning and cleaning pianos, skills he learned from his grandfather. His lessons got underway in 2006 when he was just a junior in high school.

“He was grooming me to take over the family business,” Gary said.

Gary plans to pass his love of music on to his son, Gary Jr., and daughter, Kaelyn.

“My son cries for the keyboard,” Gary said. “I bought him a baby recliner, and when I put the keyboard in front of him, he just plays and plays.”

Kaelyn, who is 5 years old, is more interested in vocal music.

“She’s has an absolutely beautiful voice,” Gary said.

 Click here to read more about Gary and his family.

Gary is available for private events, as well as piano cleaning and tuning. Contact him through his website

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Jason Day – Then and Now

A sponsor of Jason Day – RBC – has released a mini-documentary about Day’s life, and if you’ve marveled at Day’s play over the last two months and still haven’t heard his backstory, this is 10 minutes definitely worth your time.

It also reminds us of a 2012 interview we did with Jason when he visited Pinehurst as part of an outing with Lexus. It came minutes after Day’s first look at Pinehurst No. 2 (and a few weeks before the Ryder Cup, of which Jason made a prediction).

Looking back, it almost feels like we talked to Jason Day before he became JASON DAY.

Day treated the people at Pinehurst beautifully that morning and afternoon and was sincerely kind at every turn. We’ve been fans of him ever since. And after you watch the above documentary, you may become a fan for life as well.

Not a bad game, this golf, is it?

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Phil Hellmuth on Poker, Golf and Blackjack with Tiger Woods

Phil Hellmuth has won a record 14 World Series of Poker bracelets, including the main event in 1989. He’s amassed more than $18 million in live poker event earnings.

He’s also, though, fostered a friendship with Tiger Woods.

Hellmuth was in Pinehurst this week and took a moment to chat with us about a wide range of things, including how golf and poker are comparable – and playing Tiger in blackjack.

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Father, son make Pinehurst trip a family tradition


Connor Haviland and his father, Bob, at the 18th hole of Pinehurst No. 2.

Escaping a bout of freezing rain, Connor Haviland sat bundled up in a golf cart beside his father, Bob.

His hands stiff from the cold, the 17-year-old boy didn’t hesitate to suggest making the milestone golf trip to Pinehurst a permanent family tradition.

“He said, ‘You know what dad? I would really like to carry on the tradition by bringing my son here when he is junior in high school,'” Bob said. “That’s when I knew that the trip had been a success and that my son was now a loyal Pinehurst fan for life just his father and his grandfather.

“I told him that the only thing that could make it better would be if I was still around to come back with he and his son when the time came.”

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Chef Shawn Aoki gets inspiration from fresh ingredients


Chef Shawn Aoki prepares meals for guests in the Carolina Dining Room.

Chef Shawn Aoki has a deep appreciation for fresh ingredients thanks to his California upbringing.

“I grew up in sort of a farm setting,” he said. “We butchered our own cattle and we always had a garden.”

Aoki’s job growing up? Tending to the chickens.

His formative years helped prepare Aoki for life in the kitchen.

“My understanding of the farm-to-table concept really sprouted from there,” he said. “When you take care of something and see it on the table at the end of the day, it really gives you a sense of appreciation”

“It gave me an understanding of good ingredients and what they should really taste like.”

Since moving from the West Coast to Pinehurst, Aoki has gotten the chance to continue his agricultural exploration thanks to Executive Chef Thierry Debailleul’s focus on providing resort guests with meals prepared with local ingredients.

 I think there’s a correct cooking process for the right ingredient and I don’t like to alter my flavors too much.


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